Patna: The Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi today said the Central government was unlikely to deliver special status to Bihar before the general elections.

“The UPA government is gasping for breath to survive and it cannot deliver the special status to Bihar before next general elections that could take place as early as November,” he told reporters on the sidelines of his Janata Durbar.

Reacting to Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s promise to set up a sub-committee headed by Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan to frame criteria for backwardness in order to accommodate the special status aspiration of Bihar, the Deputy Finance Minister said that the former’s announcement to this effect during his recent visit here last week was nothing new as he had said as much during his budget speech on February 26.

Describing Chidambaram’s announcement as a ‘delaying tactics’, Modi said that by the time the said committee under Rajan submitted its report on the criterion for backwardness of the states, the government will get into the poll mode for the general elections and was unlikely to grant special status to Bihar due to imposition of the model code of conduct.

As far as he was concerned, the special status demand of Bihar had been pushed into limbo by the ‘non-serious’ UPA government for the time being, he alleged.

When his attention was drawn to the fact that the Chief Minister and senior coalition partner, the JD(U), had effusively welcomed Chidambaram’s move on the special status, the Modi refused to get drawn into any controversy and said that as far as he was concerned, he could make out that the Centre was delaying grant of special status to Bihar.

The grant of special status to a state was a political decision as it will require an approval by Parliament, he added.

The Deputy Chief Minister equated the Centre’s keenness or rather lack of it to grant special status to Bihar with its earlier decision to set up two central universities in the state, including one at Motihari (East Champaran) and said that despite announcement to this effect last year, the bill in this regard was yet to passed by Parliament.

“The Congress was using the special status demand like the CBI to either keep its allies on toe or woo potential partner,”‘Modi said.

He, however, refused to elaborate whether the Congress was seeking support of the JD(U) to the UPA government to complete remainder of its tenure or wanted an electoral alliance with the latter.

At the same time, Modi said that it was unlikely that the JD(U) would align with the Congress politically as the UPA government was mired in corruption, ill-governance and facing a strong anti-incumbency wave.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief Minister exuded confidence that the Planning Commission would approve Bihar’s plan size for 2013-14 at Rs. 34,000 crore at tomorrow’s meeting in New Delhi between the plan panel Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and a delegation of the state government headed by the Chief Minister.

If the Centre approves the state’s plan size, it will not be doing any favour as the proposal has been finalized as per a formula in this regard, he said.

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